Tourism in Pakistan went through a slump until at least the end of 2014. Since then, tourists from all across the world have been returning to visit the northern areas of Pakistan including areas like the Swat Valley which had earlier been earlier under the control of the militants. The most significant reason of increased tourism in Pakistan has been improved security condition in the country.
With improved security services, tourism has tripled in Pakistan on an annual basis. According to the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation, annual tourist arrivals have increased to 1.75 million. Number of domestic tourists have also increased by 30% to 38.3 million. On the other hand, foreign tourist arrival in India took a giant leap as it increased from 6.97 million to 8.8 million tourists.
Tourism in Pakistan amounts to 6.9% of GDP
The total contribution of tourist activities towards Pakistan’s economy is phenomenal. Tourism has contributed to 6.9% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Pakistan which amounts to $19.4 billion. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the figure is expected to rise up to $36.1 million in the coming decade, Bloomberg quoted.
However, security issues still prevail. Although there has been a 43% decrease in casualties through terrorists attacks, major cities of the country still have been suffering through such attacks.
The managing director of Wild Frontiers Adventure Travel Ltd, Jonny Bealby said that the tours of the organization towards South Asia have increased up to 60% since last year. Jonny Bealby runs his tourism services in London and has been organizing trips to Pakistan since the last two decades. Talking about the improvements he has seen in the country, Bealby said:
“The roads have improved immeasurably reducing journey times’’
According to Jovago – Pakistan’s biggest hotel booking website – the number of hotel bookings has increased by 80% since last year. Travelling is the dream of many Pakistanis but due to financial challenges, going abroad is pretty much difficult. Nadine Malik, chief executive officer of Jovago Visa said:
“It’s hard to get visas — it’s not easy and it’s not cheap’’
On the other hand, it is also difficult and expensive for foreigners to get a Pakistani visa, said Ayesha Siddiqa who is a researcher at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and author of books on Pakistan’s military. She said:
“A lot of people go to India because it publicizes itself as a tourist destination. It’s much more accessible’’
Expansion of Visa-On-Arrival services
Spokesperson for the Pakistan Tourism Agency, Mukhatar Ali said that Pakistan is going to expand the visa-on-arrival service beyond the current 16 countries. However, he was not specific about the countries.
On the other hand, northern areas such as Naran are undergoing construction for the development of new hotels and resorts. Karachi has also gained a significant amount of tourist attraction while the city is known for its gang-wars and political violence issues.
The Super Savari Express is also thinking to expand its services next year. In addition, it is also looking forward to make regular trips to Islamabad and Lahore in order to promote tourism. The head of operations of the Savari Express, Jehanzeb Salim said:
“It’s about breaking mental barriers”
It security continues to remained improved in Pakistan, the tourism in Pakistan will continue to flourish in the coming years.